Elder, C. P., & McCully, K. K. (2008). Skeletal muscle adaptations to resistance training with ischemia. ACSM 55th Annual Meeting Indianapolis. Presentation number 543.

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This study evaluated whether ischemia added to heavy or moderate resistance training enhances strength and muscle size compared to resistance training without ischemia. Males (N = 14) and females (N = 16) had elbow flexor muscle volume assessed via MRI and strength assessed via one-repetition maximum (1 RM) before and after 12 weeks of three days per week resistance training of the biceps. Four groups trained with heavy (80% 1 RM) or moderate (50% 1 RM) resistance and ischemic (slow continuous) or normal (fast discontinuous) repetitions.

Training resulted in increased muscle volume in the heavy slow and fast, and moderate slow and fast groups. Training also resulted in an increase in 1 RM strength in the heavy slow and fast, and moderate slow and fast groups. There was a significant resistance x time interaction for muscle volume and 1 RM strength but no differences were found between slow and fast groups at each level of resistance; indicating that ischemia did not enhance muscle volume or strength in the moderate or heavy resistance conditions. There was a significant main effect for resistance with heavy greater than moderate, and for ischemia with ischemia less than normal.

Implication. Ischemic training does not enhance muscle hypertrophy or strength.

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